Monday, March 31, 2014


I propose that we rename our Ontario Ministry of the Environment the "LETS MAKE A DEAL" Ministry. For the last twenty-four years I have seen them bend over backwards to deny, minimize and defuse all environmental issues that arise. Note defuse does not equal resolve or remedy. Whether it be Varnicolor Chemical, Uniroyal/Chemtura, Canadian General Tower, Ciba-Geigy or Northstar their modus operandi is always consistent. Now I am beginning to see similar behaviour in their "enforcement" of drinking water rules and regulations. Of late I have been examining the Safe Drinking Water Act (2002) and Ontarion Regulation 170/03. This legislation and accompanying regulations are supposed to keep our drinking water safe but once again I am seeing way too much subjectivity in their application and enforcement. Apparently chloramines above the Ontario Drinking Water Standard (3 mg/l) are not black and white. Or at least the Region of Waterloo don't think they should be. Similarily with Turbidity in our drinking water. The literature I have read states that particles in the finshed water can too easily prevent proper disnfection as pathogens (bacteria, viruses) can attach themselves to the particles and not be destroyed. The Turbidity standard ranges from .1 NTU (nephelometric turbidity units) to 1.0 NTU depending on the type of filtration. Once again these standards seem to be totally flexible and open to discussion with the M.O.E..

Each year the Region of Waterloo produce two reports namely an Annual Drinking Water Report and a Summary Report which goes to Regional Council. Adverse water quality incidences which must be reported by legislation do not seem to get from the Annual Reports into the Summary Reports in their entirety. Therefore municipal councils or anyone else reading the Summary Reports are not getting the full picture.

I was advised yesterday that the Region of Waterloo are again sending the water tankers into West Montrose to fill up their reservoir. On the one hand this is comforting in that this time of year is exactly when groundwater levels rise and bacteria are mobilized, especially in shallow wells such as those in West Montrose. As soon as the tankers stop however the residents are back on contaminated source water which is contrary to the recommendations of the O'Connor Inquiry into the Walkerton tragedy.

West Montrose have had reportable issues with Trihalomethanes, a lack of free chlorine, contact time of chlorine residuals, turbidity and chloramines for many years. Based on inadequate Annual Reports we do not know whether there are Haloacetic Acids, NDMA or other contaminants in the treated water. These problems are not being resolved over time which is why the Region have belatedly decided to do the right thing which is bring in a new source of raw water to the community. I am also skeptical of their claims that deep drilled wells are not a viable option. Presumably all the local area farms have been on drilled wells for decades.

It is now 10:05 am. Monday March 31, 2014. We did not get the volume of rain forecast for this weekend which is good for the short term water quality in the shallow West Montrose wells. Rain is forcast for tomorrow however. Will the tankers keep on running and what is the source of that water? Is it equally contaminated with high chloramines or are there different issues? Meanwhile I still await Woolwich Township's sit down discussions with me concerning West Montrose's water. Are the staff simply too busy or is it a case of plausible deniability? Last week I referred to crunch time for the Township. Stalling in order to pretend that you didn't know isn't leadership, it's avoidance. Are the Township in backroom discussions with the Region (hence the water tankers) or are they burying their heads in the sand and hoping everything goes O.K.? As usual citizens are the last to know what is going on but the first to be at risk.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


As can be determined by looking at literally decades of Ministry of the Environment Progress Reports, they have clearly indicated that they have as yet not accepted a final disposition in regards to Dense Non-aqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPL). This important, non-approval if you will, which has been documented since the mid 90's, was confirmed Thursday evening by Steve Martindale of the M.O.E.. My deepest appreciation also goes to Ron Campbell and Graham Chevreau of CPAC for their clear and blunt public statement that they and CPAC also have not accepted that DNAPL contamination on the Chemtura site has been settled.

There were two new guests in the gallery last evening namely a representative for M.P.P. Michael Harris and a Dr. Peter Strawbridge from close to Keswick, Ontario. Dr. Strawbridge is involved with an abandoned, contaminated site and wished to inform himself further regarding dioxin contaminated soil cleanups. He posed a number of questions to Chemtura in regards to their recent scraping of one foot of dioxin/DDT contaminated soil from GP1 & 2.

Ron Campbell responded to Dwight Este's (Chemtura) presentation in particular to a reference Dwight made regarding clear expectations and criteria. These expectations are part of the *Responsible Care ethic and Ron agreed that they were important in regards to the cleanup of the Elmira Aquifers.

We were told by Jeff Merriman that the grossly contaminated soil with Dioxins /DDT from GP1 & 2 was actually disposed of in a landfill as non-hazardous waste. How incredibly asinine is that? My understanding is that a composite soil sample is taken from numerous locations and then tested for both toxicity and for its' ability to leach from the soil. A final test might even be the so called "slump test". This simply puts the soil into a cone , the cone removed and then a measurement is taken as to how much the pile of soil slumps or falls over. Dear God and we wonder why the earth is being poisoned.

Seventeen months ago CRA/Chemtura advised that they were planning a dramatic change in the off-site cleanup of groundwater. This change included ISCO or In-Situ Chemical Oxidation. Currently Chemtura are doing pilot tests and have as yet not got a date for the actual ISCO remediation to begin. They also advised that the tripling of pumping of off-site groundwater could begin by September 2015. George Karlos of the M.O.E. promised to advise CPAC as to how ISCO has worked on Trichloroethylene in Cambridge, Ontario downstream of the former Northstar Aerospace. Once again Ron Campbell put Chemtura on the spot by asking if ISCO works off site how about using it on-site as well. In between gurgling, strangling sounds from Chemtura's side of the table I believe I heard Jeff state that that was an interesting question.

Well Well Well ! Now I know why CRA, Chemtura and the Ontario M.O.E. were so absolutely chickenshit (oops did I write that out loud?) about producing Jaimie Connolly's May 2, 2008 letter. While I haven't yet figured out his rationale it does appear that Jaimie is less enthusiastic than he was about free phase DNAPL having flowed from Chemtura's M2 area onto Yara's (Nutrite) property. The aforementioned partners in pollution felt that they could deny Jaimie's original position without producing the proof despite the letter having been sent to the old CPAC Chair Pat Mclean.

The young, revitalized CPAC now have the letter and what Jaimie gave away with one hand he's more than made up for with the other. Jaimie confirms exactly what I said Thursday evening to CPAC & Chemtura about DNAPL of varying viscosities (thickness). Essentially the less thick, more fluid DNAPL has probably flown the coop and is now in a stable location whereas the thicker, more viscous DNAPL could still be slowly on the march downslope. Of even greater significnace is Jaimie's overall assessment of the cleanup of the Elmira Aquifers. Once again this hydrogeologist from the Ontario M.O.E. has stated exactly what CPAC stated in their spring 2012 Resolution namely that hydraulic containment (pump & treat) on its' own is not adequate to the job. Source removal or as Jaimie says reduction in source concentrations is necessary to sucessfully remediate the aquifers. Special thanks goes to Corinne Shuh of Woolwich Township for providing this extraordinary document yesterday. The next CPAC meeting is 6 pm. Thursday April 24, 2014.

Friday, March 28, 2014


Let me start by giving a hand to the entire CPAC team. CPAC members Dr. Dan (Chair), (Dr.) Sebastian, Ron, Viv, Graham, Susanna and Mark were all extraordinary in their own fashions. The level of questions, comments, criticisms and verbal observations were incredible.

Well a firestorm erupted over my Delegation showing that the underground stratigraphy clearly slopes from east to west underneath the Chemtura site and runs onto the Yara (Nutrite) property. Combined with the lack of Upper Aquitard beneath the former operating ponds (RPW5-8); this slope on the surface of the Municipal Aquitard is and has been the main driving force allowing free phase DNAPL to gravity flow from Chemtura over to Yara. Jeff Merriman of Chemtura was in full denial mode including trying to argue both sides. Free phase DNAPL has been found near Chemtura's west property line at OW88 as well as at TPW2 and M2. Jeff claimed that the thick, viscous tar-like DNAPL wouldn't flow on the gentle slope. My point was that the thinner, faster flowing DNAPL was long gone whereas the thicker DNAPL was still in transit. Jeff and Steve Quigley (CRA) also both claimed that two hydrogeologists who had written reports in 2006 claiming that free phase DNAPL had flowed off-site had since recanted. Allegedly two letters written in 2008 supported this but these letters are not in any publicly distributed reports, may have been distributed to CPAC six years ago but were not produced last evening. We then got into a discussion regarding the characteristics of DNAPL and how it's flow direction could not be controlled by pumping and treating. Sebastian and Dr. Dan both had many questions regarding this.

Susanna prepared and discussed a wonderful graph showing NDMA concentrations at numerous off-site wells over the last twenty years plus. Some of the graphs had low and declining concentrations whereas many others showed rising and falling NDMA concentrations over many years. Susanna's main point was that the Ontario Drinking Water Standard (.009 ppb.) was at the very bottom of the graph and all the concentrations were much higher including some that were 5,000 times higher than the drinking standard. Susanna also pointed out that there were data gaps with some of the wells. She asked why one of the wells with concentrations 5,000 times greater than the NDMA drinking standard apparently hadn't been tested regularily.

George Karlos of the M.O.E. stated categorically that they would come up with formal cleanup criteria for the Elmira Aquifers. For example Sebastian has long wondered whether other Ontario jurisdictions allow water taking from one aquifer while another above it is contaminated. Steve Martindale (M.O.E.) has suggested yes and mentioned Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph. Yours truly chimed in with the steel liners used in bedrock wells in Cambridge to find deeper less contamintaed water bearing layers. This is really quite extraordinary.

Rich Clausi led the discussion on the "glacial" progress being made by the Education Committee due to the local School Board's bureaucratic mindset. It is still hoped that an environmental program and designation can be finalised for students.

Dave Brenneman, CAO for Woolwich, Councillor Mark Bauman and Dr. Dan attended a meeting with Chemtura looking for more funding for CPAC. Dwight Este of Chemtura advised that he is in discussions with their U.S. corporate parents. Dr. Dan advised that Woolwich Township's $10,000 funding to CPAC for peer reviews had gone through.

George Karlos (M.O.E.) gave an update on the proposed downstream monitoring in the Canagagigue creek. It will take place this summer and CPAC will have input into the work Plan. Both Dioxins and DDT will be tested for and where possible past monitoring locations will be replicated.

6.2.3 on last night's Agenda was presented by Steve Martindale of the Ministry. He had been asked to bring us a (written) update from hydrogeologist Jaimie Connolly regarding his April 3, 2006 letter suggesting that free phase DNAPL had flowed underground from Chemtura to Yara. Steve instead presented a verbal synopsis of a discussion he had with Jaimie. By 2008 Jaimie allegedly had concurred with Conestoga Rovers (CRA) DNAPL plans and had changed his mind about off-site DNAPL flow. Steve had nothing in writing from Jaimie on this matter to share with CPAC or SWAT (soil, water, air & technical). Most interestingly Steve volunteered the information that to date the Ontario M.O.E. have yet not signed off on DNAPL having been resolved in accordance with the Ministry's Orders or wishes. Both Graham Chevreau and Ron Campbell stated that CPAC has also not signed off as being satisfied with the DNAPL situation at Chemtura.

More to follow on last night's important CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) meeting.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Yesterday's posting here in the Advocate got the attention of one Woolwich Councilor who e-mailed me late last evening for details. He wanted to know who I had contacted at Woolwich Township with my suggestion and whether or not they had responded to me yet. I view this as a positive and have indicated that we will have a face to face discussion before the day is over. Two points to consider here. I have made it very clear here in the Advocate that while past Woolwich Councils have been hopeless and worse in regards to dealing with local environmental issues; the current one has been schizophrenic. While that discription may not be politically correct, frankly my dear I don't give a damn. This current Council have pleasantly surprised me in regards to some CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) matters and action while then behaving in an incredibly petty and juvenile matter on others. Therefore Woolwich Council this is crunch time. You may wimp out, ignore your citizens in West Montrose and claim the Region of Waterloo has 100% responsibility OR you can take action yourselves. The second point deals with the urgency and timing. We haven't had the spring thaw and rains yet. They are actually scheduled for today and over the weekend. The shallow wells and groundwater will be likely to rise and bacteria levels spike in the wells. Any failure in the treatment system and this could be the spring that causes a catastrophe in West Montrose.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Last evening (6pm) at Woolwich Council I received a cordial reception including appropriate questions afterwards by Councillors and Mayor. My Delegation focused on water issues in Elmira/St. Jacobs as well as end of the pipe water and health issues in West Montrose. My concern was their proposed action of sending my written report to the Region of Waterloo and of Mr. Kennealey, Engineering & Planning Director, reporting back to Council next week after conversing with the Region. The problem is that the Region of Waterloo already know full well that they are playing fast and loose with the various water systems. As I indicated in my Delegation "Their goal is to avoid immediate mass poisoning by bacteria and to avoid prosecution for everything else.". They are between a rock and a hard place and are stickhandling frantically to keep the water drinkable. As the famous quote goes "The first casualty in war, is the truth".

I have proposed a second course of action this morning to Woolwich Township. I hope to know shortly if it will be embraced. The bottom line is that the Region have gone far too many miles down the path of trust us, everything's O.K.; when in fact it isn't. Too many years of public reassurance when in fact their water supply was at risk; have eroded the Region's ability to now be forthcoming.

The raw source of water in West Montrose is badly contaminated with both Total Coliforms and E.Coli. It has been very bad for many years. Occasionally temporary Boil Water Advisorys have been issued when there was a breakdown in the disinfection by chlorine of the water. Both Chlorine and Chloramine are used to kill the neverending supply of bacteria and the Chloramines most likely are producing toxic by-products of disinfection as they are above the Ontario Drinking Water Standard of 3.0 mg/litre. This information has not been directly and forthrightly shared with the residents of West Montrose.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "A lot of us pee in the pool-and it's hurting our health". This story describes the unfortunate but ubiquitous reality of humans adding nitrogen/ammonia/urea to swimming pools and the then resultant chemical reaction with chlorine in the pool. The story focuses on nitrogen trichloramine and cyanogen chloride gas.

This evening at Woolwich Council (6pm) I will be discussing three different Woolwich communities and their water supply. Elmira and St. Jacobs are served by a pipeline that comes up from Waterloo. There are serious issues with that water supply as well as with the water supply in West Montrose. The Region of Waterloo are currently in a years long process to replace the drinking water system in West Montrose. The Region as is their habit are not being forthcoming as to the reasons why they are so doing. Apparently we will continue to limp along and "manage" the contaminated water coming from Waterloo. Politics and money are behind the decisions to keep citizens in the dark regarding health issues and our drinking water.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Well if you've been following my Blog/Website for any length of time you know that these monthly Progress Reports are anything but. They attempt to put a positive spin on a situation that is out of control. For example it has now been about seventeen months since Chemtura through their consultants (CRA) stated that their new plan was to triple off-site pumping and do source removal via In-Situ Chemical Oxidation. To date we have nothing but negatives in regards to their test results for the suitability of ISCO. Secondly in regards to off-site pumping, for every well they increase pumping another well decreases. The total off-site pumping for February was 55.7 litres per second and the longtime target pumping rate has been 53.1 l/sec. This off-site pumping rate includes wells W3, W4, W5A/B and E7.

Yes both on and off site pumping are achieving their old target pumping rates but Chemtura/CRA, AFTER CPAC & Woolwich publicly advised their old rates weren't doing the job, promised to TRIPLE them. So far no sign thereof. They are really long on promises and really short on delivery. More and more it becomes obvious that they are simply running out the clock. They and the M.O.E. just want to be left alone pretending to clean up this grossly contaminated site. They are and have been using public consultation as a strategy of public deception.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys a front page story titled "Well owners uneasy about Line 9". This article rightly points out the risks to local drinking water wells along the pipeline route. Local councillors, mayors and fire chiefs are all interviewed and seem generally to have a realistic understanding of the threat to both human health and the environment. What I take issue with are some of the rosy suggestions that residents on municipal wells are so much better protected. "Their water is monitored regularily for contamination, including from petroleum products, by regional staff and people are alerted whenever there's a problem."

"...monitored regularily..." Really? I've lost track of the number of municipal in service drinking wells in Waterloo Region last year whose test results in the 2013 Annual Drinking Water Report were not from 2013. Lots were from 2012 and some older.

"...including petroleum products..." Really? There is a former service station in Heidelburg that has been under remediation for years and years. Despite this the Region of Waterloo's Annual Drinking Water Reports for the two municipal Heidelburg wells do not test for three of the most common compounds found in gasoline or diesel namely Toluene, Ethylbenzene or Xylenes. Also there are no test results for the more common F1 and F2 petroleum hydrocarbons that would indicate a nearby longtime leaking service station. Maybe through an unlikely hydrogeological scenario the Heidelburg wells have somehow avoided contamination. Ignoring testing for these above compounds doesn't give me or other informed citizens much confidence however.

"...people are alerted whenever there's a problem.". Oh now that's just too precious. In what universe does this take place? Waterloo Region wells from Cambridge to Woolwich and everything in between have problems and people are routinely reassured that everything is just fine. When was the last time that you or your neighbours were directly advised about decades old Trichloroethylene in Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo wells? When was the last time you were directly informed by regional staff that industrial contamination has shut down wells in Cambridge and Kitchener wellfields? Most municipal and regional water problems are "managed" by the Region. This management includes an aggressive public relations campaign extolling the virtues of tap water.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Good for you Councillor Gazzola. Once again he is asking the tough questions and once again the bureaucrats and possibly even regional politicians will be wiggling on the hook. To date however it doesn't look as if they are being completely forthcoming. Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Where did the water go?". Some of the more novel excuses include water "losses" due to fighting fires. Hoo now that's a good one. Perhaps a little better accounting is required if you lump the use of firefighting water in with 10% of your water going "missing".

The more expected answers deal with aging pipes, leaks and even ruptures due to frozen pipes. It still doesn't quite add up so let me volunteer one more attempt at an answer. "Kitchener Utilities buys water from the Region of Waterloo and then bills customers.". So far so good. Does Kitchener Utilities personally measure the incoming water? Is there a metre which leaves each and every Regional wellfield in Kitchener that measures the number of cubic metres of water going into the Kitchener Distribution system? Or on the other hand have the Region got the metre set up to measure each and every gallon/cubic metre of water pumped out of the ground and then bill Kitchener accordingly? These are possibly two vastly different numbers. Naturally the Region wish to cover all their costs and literally every gallon pumped has an electricity cost, maintenance cost and depreciation cost for pumps, pipes and electrical systems. Is it conceivable that Kitchener consumers are paying 100% costs for all water pumped including water from what are known as purge wells? The Region as part of their water management system have various purge wells that pump and discharge contaminated water in order to protect nearby drinking wells. Could wells that have been taken off-line for several years such as the Lancaster St. wells possibly be still pumping, but to waste, instead of into the system? I don't know how that water is accounted for but a well by well examination might shed some light on Ktchener's disappearing water.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Cambridge with all their industrial contamination problems don't appear to have excess chloramines being produced. This even includes the Middleton Wellfield alongside the Grand River. Kitchener has lots probably courtesy of Grand River water being brought into the Mannheim System but also in some of their other wells. Waterloo has plenty in the William St. Wellfield which certainly isn't surface water. Good Lord surely Laurel Creek surface water isn't being drawn into the William St. wells? Most of the rural townships while occasionally having excess Nitrates don't seem to be sufferring from chloramines. What exactly is going on? I'm going out on a limb here and wondering outloud if maybe, just maybe water is being treated inappropriately although I don't know why.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Last Friday's Waterloo Region Record carried this story "Water supply options considered for Conestogo and West Montrose". According to this story West Montrose has both quantity and quality problems whereas Conestogo not only does not, but actually has excess capacity. Therefore the original plan was to build a pipeline from Conestogo to West Montrose but now two additional plans are on the drawing board both of which entail Waterloo water coming north to Conestogo and West Montrose. It seems more than a little strange to me that these new plans include replacing the two Conestogo water systems when we've been told that they have both acceptable quality and quantity.

The alleged problems in West Montrose apparently are due to shallow wells which can "clog quickly". Also allegedly they aren't supplying as much water as the Region hoped. Really? These four wells are river infiltration wells and literally are replenished twenty-four seven by the Grand River . The volumes of Grand River water are controlled by the upriver Belwood (Shand) Dam and are very stable throughout even the low rainfall summer months. There is a water problem in West Montrose and it is long overdue to be remedied. Next Tuesday (6 pm.) I will be discussing these issues in Woolwich Council Chambers.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Last Saturday's Woolwich Observer carrys this story namely: "Few issues with Woolwich water, report finds". I was shocked and disgusted with the title and more so when I read the story. After I calmed down and reread the story several times I decided to try and match the claims in the story with the raw data. This proved impossible as my raw data simply didn't match the claimed "occurrences" for Elmira/St.Jacobs, Heidelberg, Maryhill, Conestogo and West Montrose. At that point having reread my Drinking Water Reports for these Woolwich communities, produced by the Region of Waterloo; I got smart. I went on-line to Woolwich Township's website and found the Engineering Report that was handed out to the Councillors. Ahh now I see! Pages two and three indeed have a Table which compares 2013 results with 2012 results, sort of. Indeed these two pages clearly are the source of data which Steve Kannon of the Observer used for his story. Things match.

The problem is this however. The Woolwich Engineering Report has the 2013/2012 data for microbiological (bacteria) issues at the start. Much later on in their Report they have the same data I had regarding information specific to the multiple Woolwich systems. These more comprehensive Drinking Water Reports include information on Inorganics such as Sodium, Nitrites and Nitrates, metals and organic chemicals. They also include products of disinfection such as THMs (trihalomethanes) and Chloramines as well as organic industrial and agricultural manmade chemicals. What is not included in any of the Region of Waterloo Drinking Water Reports are literally hundreds of other industrial chemicals as well as common everyday chemicals courtesy of leaking gas stations. Also missing are pharmaceuticals and personal care chemicals.

I have addressed these Woolwich communities drinking water recently here in the Advocate. Upon rereading my postings and further research I can see that I have somewhat understated the health issues and problems arising from the drinking water in a number of Woolwich communities. This upon request I will be addressing as a Delegate to an upcoming Woolwich Council meeting.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Last Saturday's Woolwich Observer carrys an excellent letter to the Editor from CPAC's Chair, Dr. Dan Holt. The title is "Groundwater safety an issue right here in Elmira" and while complimenting Steve Kannon on his earlier column relating to worldwide droughts; asks the question why Steve and the Observer have not been showing equal concern for water contamination and hence shortages right here in Elmira. Dr. Dan points out the glaring lack of coverage from the Observer for the last several years on this local, ongoing crisis. He points out that Woolwich citizen volunteers have been very active in pushing both the Ministry of the Environment and Chemtura towards a better, more effective cleanup of our groundwater. CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) passed a Resolution almost two years ago which was endorsed by Woolwich Council stating that the present plans were totally inadequate and advising the necessary changes. Chemtura have responded with new plans which if implemented may greatly improve the cleanup quality and timing. Woolwich citizens are fortunate that the Elmira Independent have faithfully covered all the ongoing public meetings literally for decades. The Observer used to and their presence and further public education and awareness now would assist all of us in keeping the pressure on the M.O.E. and Chemtura Canada Inc..

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Acting on a tip received recently I went digging through the Ontario Ministry of the Environment's website. Particularily I was looking for Records of Site Condition dealing with a residential development directly across Church St. here in Elmira from where I live. The Development is known as the Lunor Subdivision and is primarily being built on decades/centuries old farmland. In fact I briefly worked at a local company with the one farmer who sold his land to Lunor. My disgust for the Ministry of the Environment has been further refreshed with statements in the Record of Site Condition suggesting that these are public documents readily accessible to the public. Really? The fellow who first spotted these while surfing couldn't find them again while he was telling me about them. After I found them I immediately printed them off for fear of also not being able to find my way back to them.

There is no industry per se in my neighbourhood and a huge part of my choosing this neighbourhood was to be upwind and a long way away from Chemtura and the east side industries. Across from me is Elmira Farm Service. Less surprising to me now is that they are in the process of relocating further westward along Floradale Rd.. I've been advised that they rented/leased their property versus outright owning it. Well it turns out that along with some other minor concerns expressed by the consulting company is their very matter of fact repeated references to the known contamination at Elmira Farm Service. The gist of it seems to be the use of oils, greases and fuels for servicing agricultural machinery over a long period of time. In one breath the consultants (R.J. Burnside) state that these contaminants are not migrating off-site and in the next breath they are describing a storm drain carrying petroleum hydrocarbons to the east off-site where they discharge into a field. All very curious.

The second parcel of land that Lunor acquired (the west parcel) is also farmland and a concern mentioned was a 60 litre spill of hydrochloric acid upgradient in the past. No particular source is attributed to this spill.

Back to EFS (Elmira Farm Service) I at first thought that references to a waste disposal site due north close to Larch's Creek was their doing. Further reading, while still not terribly clear or specific, is making me believe that this may simply have been household/farm wastes from the eastern parcel (90 Church St.). Of interest is the current excavations going on well within site of the Kissing Bridge Trail and Larch's Creek that seem to correspond with the map showing this waste disposal site. The last tidbit in reference to EFS is the consultant's very clear statement that the contaminated drainage ditch flow onto Lunor property must be stopped. Clearly that has happened. While both the direction of groundwater flow and any possible vapours from it seem to have missed us; I can say that I am disappointed. I expected more and better from my neighbour.

Friday, March 14, 2014


After last summer's horrific train derailment and fire in Lac Megantic we were advised that there had been a train derailment in Waterloo around October 2012. Apparently nothing leaked and damages were minimal. It is my recollection that the train cars were on their way to Chemtura in Elmira. Well simply by chance I stumbled upon another past train derailment. This one occurred by the Electrohome plant in Kitchener on October 25, 2001. The Waterloo Region Record carried the story and the somewhat misleading title was "Wind blows tank car off track". In reality the wind was a contributing factor in that it was strong enough to get several parked railcars moving on the tracks. Then they derailed. There are issues here in regards again to the braking system on these "parked" railcars. The other bad news is that this time there was a leak of a chemical bound again for Uniroyal/Chemtura, known as Decene. We are informed in the article that Decene is a non-toxic but flammable liquid. Apparently we were lucky in that this leak didn't cause a fire. As far as being non-toxic I'll just do a little check on Mr. Google to determine if that's correct.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


A voice from the past is dropping by with an interest in what's new on the Uniroyal/Chemtura front these days. My response is multiple sources of contamination in Elmira. Yara (Nutrite) didn't come to the forefront until more than a decade after Uniroyal took all the blame. The Varnicolor Chemical contamination was a coverup from the beginning courtesy of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. Multiple gas stations in Elmira also have since been remediated, some with extensive petroleum hydrocarbon contamination.

As of 2000, years before even any half hearted conclusion came from UPAC/CPAC, the Ontario M.O.E. permitted Uniroyal to allow some of their on-site contamination to leave their site particularily in the north-west. The M.O.E. wrote it into an Amending Control Order first and then discussed it for several years with CPAC.

We learned that Uniroyal received a Settlement Agreement in October 7, 1991 from the M.O.E. one month before the November 4, 1991 Control Order was issued. The Settlement Agreement gave Uniroyal an Indemnity from liability for known on-site contamination and takes precedence over the Control Order. Most of Elmira learned of this back door betrayal in 2011.

It will probably be 2050 at the earliest before the Region of Waterloo again uses the Elmira Aquifers for drinking water. eric Hodgins of the Region so advised CPAC over a year ago and it's due to things like an Environmental Assessment being required as well as several years of monitoring in case of contamination "rebound" after the pump and treat stops.

This winter Woolwich Council voted to remove a by-law prohibiting underground fuel tanks nearby the former south wellfield. This is merely the straw that broke the camel's back as Council clearly don't believe we will get our drinking water back.

CPAC passed a Resolution which Council did however endorse two years ago stating that the current M.O.E./Chemtura cleanup plan wasn't adequate. Source removal on and off site is required to have any hope for eventual restoration of the Elmira Aquifers.

Eight months later Chemtura announced that completely on their own they've updated their cleanup plans to include tripling the volume of off-site pumping and treating as well as using In-Situ Chemical Oxidation off-site in particularily recalcitrant areas. This turnaround despite their claims to the contrary is due to public and CPAC pressure.

Lots more including Uniroyal/Chemtura being blamed for free phase DNAPLS leaving their site and contaminating Yara and even possibly behind the old Varnicolor Chemical near the Howard Ave. water tower. All of this makes the M.O.E. look incompetent and corrupt which we already knew.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Today is the last of the 2013 Water Reports. We have covered Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, North Dumfries, Wellesley, Woolwich and now Wilmot. The Wilmot System partially consists of four groundwater wells which can also be used to supplement Kitchener's water through the Mannheim Reservoir. Besides those wells there is also the Foxboro System, the New Dundee System, New Hamburg/Baden and the two wells for the Shingletown Supply System.

Starting with the Mannheim System we have well K22A. The two biggest issues which stood out are the 2009 test results and the fact that well K22A was shut down all of 2013. Hmm! Further investigation and sure enough this well hasn't been in production since 2009 and yet it's still considered part of the system. Wouldn't it be nice if the Region of Waterloo had some obligation, legal or otherwise, to share with us why it's been shut down for so long?

Well K23 is next for the Mannheim System. The good news is that the test results are for 2013 and the well ran for the entire year without being shutdown. The bad news is the level of nitrates in this well. They are some of the highest I've seen in Waterloo Region at over 5 parts per million. The Report indicates that these levels are greater than 50% of the
Ontario Drinking Water Standards.

Well K24 has similar problems to the previous well plus they are using 2012 test results. While I don't know the Region's legal mandate it seems patently ridiculous that a well such as K24 can pump into the system for all of 2013 without shutdown and the Region don't have to publish 2013 test results. Nitrates are just as bad as well K23 with a couple of readings actually in the 5.66 ppm area.

Well K26 is actually worse than the previous two for nitrates. The test results again are for 2012 while the well was pumping for 51 weeks last year into the drinking water system. Nitrates are above 6 parts per million (6.93 ppm) which is significantly above 50% of the drinking water standard I have of 10 ppm. The Region highlight any contaminants above 50% for good cause. These drinking standards are based upon the wholly ridiculous and unreasonable basis that the one contaminant at a time being examined is alone in a litre of pure water.

The Foxboro Green Supply consists of three wells namely FG1, FG2 and FG4. FG2 was off-line for four weeks and FG4 for three weeks. The test results are also disappointingly for 2012. The good news is that both Sodium and Nitrates are a non-issue.

The New Dundee System consists of two wells , ND4 and ND5. They both ran full time without shutdowns during 2013. Nitrates while elevated are however below 50% of the drinking water standard. The test results again are for 2012 instead of 2013.

The New Hamburg/Baden Supply System consists of well NH3. When I saw that it was shutdown for three weeks last year I was concerned as there appeared to be no backup wells. Fortunately the following system (Shingletown) has the plumbing capabilty to have its' water sent to either New Hamburg/Baden and or even eastward to the Kitchener Mannheim System if required. Sodium and Nitrates concentrations (2013) are very low although the rest of the contaminant testing again hasn't been done since 2012.

The Shingletown System consists of two wells which as previously mentioned have considerable flexibility as to where their water is distributed. Well K50 ran for the whole year and the two issues I see are the 2013 elevated Nitrates concentrations and 2012 test results. The Nitrates however are just below 50% of the drinking water standard.

The last well in the Shingletown System is K51. It was off-line for two weeks last year. Sodium results are low and Nitrates are also lower than most of the other wells in Wilmot. Again for the industrial contaminants we are dealing with 2012 test results.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


There are four systems considered to be part of the North Dumfries water supply and they are the Ayr System, Branchton, Lloyd Brown and Roseville System. The Lloyd Brown System is no more than a distribution system as all water is supplied by the City of Cambridge. Hence there are no test results whatsoever and we don't even know which part of Cambridge or which wells primarily supply this system. All in all this report is a complete waste of time.

The Ayr system consists of three wells namely A1, A2, and A3. All test results are for 2013 and none of the wells were shut down during the year. There are a few slightly elevated Method Detection Limits for some industrial chemicals but there are no obvious detections. Nitrates and Sodium are very low and there are no chemicals including chloramines which exceed even half of the drinking water standard. As with all other regional well systems there are major gaps in the lists of industrial parameters being tested.

The Branchton well supply consists of two wells namely BM1 and BM2. The test results are all from 2013 which is a good thing plus there were no shutdowns during the year. There are however elevated Sodium and Chloramines (by-product of disinfection) concentrations. The chloramines in particular seem much higher than they should be.

The Roseville system consists of two wells namely R5 and R6. The test results are current (2013) and Sodium and Nitrates concentrations are low. There were no shutdowns and other than a few slightly elevated Method Detection Limits I see no problems.

Monday, March 10, 2014


The Wellesley Townships well systems consist of four different systems in the towns of Heidelberg, St. Clements, Wellesley and Linwood. All are on groundwater with very few obvious problems. In fact I am pleased to report that all four towns have test results from 2013 for these 2013 Reports as is appropriate. Somehow this obvious requirement has escaped the Region of Waterloo with so many of their other drinking water reports.

Of the four towns only Wellesley has a single well off-line at all. Well WY5 was off-line for 12 weeks during 2013. There were no significant expenses for repairs or updates and there is no explanation given for the shutdown. This is worrisome and similar to many wells in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, requires clarification and explanation. Without specifics on well shutdowns this can lead citizens to lose faith that these annual drinking water reports are complete, honest and transparent.

The Heidelberg system consists of two wells namely HD1 and HD2. There were no shutdowns, no detections of chemicals; nitrates and sodium are low and the results are all from 2013. Therefore why am I about to give a major warning regarding their water supply? It has to do with my increasing state of knowledge and hence concern regarding their longtime contaminated site in the middle of town. At the intersection is a former gas station which has been attempting to collect LNAPL for many years. LNAPL or light non-aqueous phase liquids simply means gas/diesel free product floating on top of the water table. That these gas or diesel products have not dissolved into the water table is due to their relatively low solubility and due to their volume. Simply put more was leaked/spilled into the natural environment than can readily dissolve into the groundwater. Eventually (years/decades) it will eventually dissolve but for that length of time many toxic chemicals will be in the groundwater. What I don't know is the direction of shallow groundwater flow and the location of the two drinking wells (HD1 & HD2).

It gets a little more complicated and the Region should be clearly telling the whole truth to local residents in these reports. Firstly even if the wells are upgradient from the normal groundwater flow direction there is a problem. In Elmira the north wellfield which is upgradient from Uniroyal/Chemtura was shut down due to NDMA contamination. Basically pumping wells produce a somewhat circular cone of influence which can draw even downgradient contamination back towards themselves. The second issue is even more concerning. The province in their infinite wisdom have allowed municipalities a huge loophole in regards to reporting contaminants. Many, many ubiquitous industrial liquid contaminants are simply ignored as if they do not exist. This includes what are known as BTEX chemicals. These are the most common constituents of gasoline and diesel fuel and are Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylenes. While it is bad news to ignore them at all I suggest that it is downright negligent of the Region to do so when they have a former gas station under extensive longterm remediation.

The St. Clements system has somewhat elevated Nitrates however they do not exceed the drinking water standards. That being said individuals with heart or other serious health concerns should doublecheck with their doctors as to whether nitrates are an issue for them. At a second glance one of their two wells was off-line for only a single week. Without further information from the Region I would assume the best and think that this was some form of routine maintenance. Everything else appears normal with however a couple of slightly elevated Method Detection Limits for a few chemicals. Again without further info from the Region it's difficult to determine anything from that.

The Linwood Well System consists of two wells and overall everything appears to be good. Nitrates and sodium are reasonably low, the test results are all from 2013 and neither well was shut down during 2013. Similar to the St. Clements system there are a few chemicals with slightly elevated MDLs which may or may not be pertinent to anything. Again BTEX chemicals and many others are missing but unfortunately this is a shortcoming throughout all of the Region's Annual Drinking Water Reports.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


I've already critiqed the City of Waterloo Annual Drinking Water Reports with Waterloo being the location that the pipeline to Elmira and St. Jacobs comes from. That was done just a few days ago. Today's report concerns the rural systems in West Montrose (1), Conestogo(2) and Maryhill (2). Overall I've found far fewer problematic issues relating to industrially contaminated groundwater as expected in the rural areas. One exception may be Heidelberg but we'll come to that in a few days. I readily admit that my knowledge of agricultural contamination is considerably weaker than my knowledge of industrial contamination. Therefore I have difficulty in assessing the risk involved with contaminates like nitrates, sodium and disinfection by-products like Chloramines, Trihalomethanes (THMs) and Haloacetic Acids.

First off the West Montrose well system consists of four river wells. These are located in the floodplain of the Grand River and are probably what are known as GUDI wells. This is Groundwater Under the Direct Influence of surface water. The main issue with these wells is that as they are partly replenished with surface water they are more prone to bacterial contamination. Hence there is usually massive disinfection required which does increase the levels of both THMs and Chloramines in the treated drinking water. Similar to the other rural Woolwich Systems there are slightly elevated Method Detection Limits (MDL) for a number of pesticides and industrial chemicals which I find somewhat strange. The good news is that all the test results are from 2013 unlike so many of the Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge results.

The first Maryhill Well System is called the Village Heights System. It consists of two wells (MH3, MH4A)and all the test results are from 2013 as well. While THMs and Chloramines are not an issue unfortunately Nitrates are somewhat high. That being said they do not exceed drinking water standards. Similar to West Montrose there are a number of industrial/agricultural chemicals with slightly elevated MDLs. It is really difficult to know whether that signifies anything therefore I wish the Region would include explanations when they use different MDLs for the same chemicals only in different locations.

The second system is known as the Maryhill Water Supply System and consists of two different wells (MH1, MH2). While Nitrates are a non-issue unfortunately there are elevated sodium levels. The sodium doesn't have a rigid drinking standard however it greatly exceeds the long term recommendation. Chloramines are also high and exceed half the prescribed drinking water standards. Again there are some elevated MDLs; while the good news is that the test results are all appropriately from 2013.

The last two systems are for the village of Conestogo. The Conestogo Golf Water Supply System consists of two wells named C5 and C6. From past research I am confident that they too have some surface water influence (Grand River). That being said they do not appear to have either elevated Chloramines or THMs. Nitrates are somewhat elevated and again there are a few elevated MDLs for industrial/agricultural chemicals. My concern for some time has been the possibilty of chemicals from the discharge of the Canagagigue Creek into the Grand River upstream of Conestogo possibly getting into these wells. As NDMA and many other industrial chemicals are not tested for in any regional well systems we will never know for certain if there are other industrial chemicals present.

The second Conestogo Well System is known as the Conestogo Plains Water Supply System. It consists of two wells namely C3 and C4 and these wells are located up by Northfield Dr. and Sawmill Road. Obviously these wells are not at all influenced by surface water and unsurprisingly have no Chloramines or THM issues. In fact other than again slightly elevated MDLs for a few chemicals they appear to be in very good shape.

Friday, March 7, 2014


I've been recently posting here regarding the Region of Waterloo Annual Drinking Water Reports for Cambridge and Waterloo. Today is Kitchener's turn.

The Woolner Well Supply is located on the west side banks of the Grand River, downstream from Safety-Kleen in Breslau and the former Pompeii and Forwell wellfields. The Region would have us believe that those wellfields were closed in the mid 90's due to the world's most powerful bacteria. The Woolner wells have been problematic for many years due to both algae and possibly phenols (guess from where) causing taste and odour problems. It would be unseemly to drop this well system too quickly from the reports so it is being allowed to die a natural death. In the last few years it's been shut down intermittently but in 2013 it didn't run at all.

The Strange St. Well System consists of five wells. This system had Trichloroethylene in it as long ago as 1986. This past year four of the five wells were shut down without explanation. Well K11A and well K18 were off-line for 29 weeks, well K13 for 13 weeks and well K19 for 47 weeks! These wells are geographically spread out and are pumped into the Strange St. reservoir. This should sucessfully dilute individual contaminants but obviously there are still problems. The test results published are for 2012 not 2013. There are also chloramines (disinfectant by-products) that routinely exceed half of the drinking water standards for them.
The Greenbrook Well System consists of five wells also. Wells K1 and K2 were off-line for 34 weeks each and well K8 was off-line for 26 weeks. This kind of puts a perspective on lawn watering and other water restrictions doesn't it? This well system is located east of the former Ottawa St. Landfill site. A few years back this wellfield was shutdown completely while special treatment was installed due to the presence of an industrial chemical namely 1,4 dioxane. Interestingly liquid solvent wastes including 1,4 dioxane were being dumped into the Ottawa St. Landfill by Varnicolor Chemical (Elmira) in the 80's and early 90's. This occasioned only a minor scandal at the time and the Region promised to tighten up their inspections of incoming loads. Too little, too late. Now we have the scenario whereby a known contaminant to regional drinking wells is not being routinely tested and reported in the Annual Reports. This also applies to NDMA which has been found both in Elmira and Cambridge. I suspect it's everywhere else in the region but you'll never find what you don't test for.

The Parkway Well System is located near Fairway Rd. and Manitou Drive. It consists of three wells and they (K31, K32, K33) and the Parkway Reservoir were off-line for only five weeks in 2013. Despite that regular pumping and useage the bulk of the test results are from 2012 instead of 2013. Through contaminant "management" via purge wells, shutdowns, dilution etc. most of these drinking water reports can eliminate detections of contaminants. This system had a low detection (.6 ppb) of trichloroethylene last year. This is hardly surprising as the former Deilcraft plant was remediated nearby many years ago and it had slightly enriched the groundwater.

Lastly we have the incredibly expensive Mannheim Water Treatment Plant and Pumping Station. My calculation from their numbers presented is $9.5 million in repairs, maintenance and upgrades not including two items that I recognize as Elmira expenses. This system consists of eleven wells, an Aquifer Storage & Recovery System as well as water from the Grand River. Well K91 was off-line for 5 weeks and well K29 for 29 weeks. What I find disconcerting are the much higher MDL's (method detection limits) for their testing results. High MDL's can be used to hide a multitude of sins and if that's not what they are being used for we should be advised as to the why. Numerous toxic chemicals have MDL's much higher than anything I've seen this year in the Waterloo or Cambridge Water Reports. The good news is that the Region of Waterloo have actually included 2013 test results for this well system in their 2013 Annual Drinking Water Report.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


I've posted three times in regards to the City of Cambridge Annual Drinking Water Reports. These are in fact produced by the Region of Waterloo and mandated by provincial legislation. Since the very early 1990's Elmira and St. Jacobs have been supplied water via a pipeline from the City of Waterloo. Waterloo's water comes from three sources namely the William St. Well Supply, the Erb St. Well Supply and finally from the Waterloo North production field. This third source has been very problematic with well W5A not even mentioned anymore and well W10 off-line for several years and whose latest test results are from 2005.

The Erb St. Well Supply consists of four wells namely W6A, W6B, W7 and W8. Well W6A was off-line for all of 2013 and 2012. While the other wells were functioning throughout 2013 nevertheless the test results are from 2012 with the exception of Nitrites and Nitrates (2013). Well W6A is the most northerly of the four wells in the Erb St. Well Supply and while no explanation is given as to its' absence I have a sneaking suspicion. Literally for decades I did not understand how the, at the time, leaking Erb St. landfill was not affecting these and other wells. Since then a leachate control system has been installed however as usual well after the fact and well after it was needed. As a result the K-W Record have carried a few stories relating to a plume of contaminants that has left the Landfill property and affected at least one nearby private well. This combined with admissions in the Region's Grand River Source Protection Plans make me suspect that they have been "managing" contamination from this location similar to their "management" of contaminant plumes in both Cambridge and at the William St. Wellfield in Waterloo. This management can consist of purge wells to intercept contaminants before they get to the other wells and or dilution via blending wells together in reservoirs.

The William St. Wells consist of wells W1B, W1C, W2 and W3. Well W3 was off-line for all of 2013. The test results for industrial and agricultural contaminants are all for 2012 with the exception of Trichloroethylene (TCE) which are from 2013. TCE has been an issue in the William St. Wellfield since at least 1991. Probable sources may include former local industries such as Canbar, Sunar and possibly Seagrams. Currently the "management" of TCE includes a purge well at the former Seagrams site which intercepts some of the TCE as well as blending the William St. wells together. Finally the shutdown of W3 while not explicitly stated probably is also relevant. TCE is tested for mostly on a monthly basis although occasionally on a weekly basis. It is always present albeit below Ontario Drinking Water Standards (ODWS).

For these Annual Drinking Water Reports to be honest and transparent, far more information is required. Detailed information as to why any production wells are off-line needs to be provided. Test results should always be for the year being examined in the Report, not for prior years. That is just ridiculous. If contamination is being "managed" that should explicitly be stated rather than it being buried on-line in different reports. Also why does the Region of Waterloo shield corporate polluters who have impacted the publics' drinking water supplies? Lastly this whole idea of "managing" toxic chemicals in our drinking water is flirting with disaster. Even with treatment and dilution what other currently unknown industrial chemicals are in our raw groundwater that do not respond to current treatment mechanisms? Recall that NDMA wasn't found in Elmira until the very first time it was tested for in 1989. It also required separate treatment as the standard activated carbon doesn't remove it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Last evenings 7 pm. meeting was held in meeting room #1 at the Rec Centre on Snyder Avenue in Elmira. The next meeting is scheduled for the same time and location for April 1, 2014. The biggest change in attendance last evening was the asppearance of three local Ministry of the Environment officials namely Jane Glassco, Amy Shaw and Jackie Lamport. To
my surprise the M.O.E. were on the receiving end of a very pointed criticism late in the meeting by Earl Brubacher.

We were advised that the construction is essentially completed. One engine was test fired Monday and the other one yesterday. The power plant should be finished by the end of the week. I'm going out on a limb here but I believe I understood that the digester tanks will be filled by either the middle or the end of this month. Jackie Lamport of the M.O.E. suggested that depending on wind direction Woolwich Bio-En might wish to wait a day or two for favourable conditions before either agitating or filling tanks with odourous material such as manure. Chairman Earl Brubacher politely advised her that they do have a deadline from the Ontario Power Authority of May 4/14 to get into production.

There was a discussion again in regards that a Letter of Credit to the Citizens liason Committee from Bio-En would require them to be either incorporated or somehow a legal entity. Chuck Martin had looked into this for Woolwich Bio-En. it was agreed that Robert Musselman of the CLC would do further investigating of this matter.

Earl Brubacher discussed at length several amendments to the REA (renewable energy act) that Woolwich Bio-En will be seeking. These include the option of selling the gas produced, for use in natural gas vehicles. Arrangements have been made for Elmira Truck Service to be the retailer for Bio-En. Some trucks come from the factory ready to go with natural gas and others require a conversion kit.

Another amendment required deals with another new 250 KW local farm customer. There are also plans for the selling of heat possibly for a future development on 50 acres just to the east of the Bio-En location.

Changes to feedstocks into the process also require REA amendments. Things like paper sludge, industrial/commercial/institutional wastes, wet wheat, elevator grains and even mushroom waste are being considered.

It was at the end of the meeting that the Chair raised his concerns about what he viewed as a "not very ethical" change put into Bio-En's operating conditions by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. This change was in regard to the number of truck movements on site per day. Earl quoted the number of 80 truck movements per day. As I understand it there are a couple of different ways to interpret 80 truck movements and clearly Earl Brubacher felt that a misinterpretation had taken place. Later in the evening, after the meeting, I received a call from a local citizen who had a different understanding than Earl Brubacher's. I am hopeful that this issue will be fully aired and clarified sooner than later.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Five broad points regarding Cambridge's 2013 Annual Drinking Water Report.
1) Numerous ubiquitous or less so chemical compounds are not being reported.
2) The Region of Waterloo have full knowledge of serious industrial/chemical contamination in multiple Cambridge drinking wells.
3) The Region are "managing" this contamination via a number of methods including dilution/blending, redrilling & steel liners, temporary shutdowns, pumping rate adjustments, permanent shutdowns, purge wells and chemical treatment.
4) The Region are skating on very thin ice. Well G9 has TCE concentrations within it's capture zone as high as 50 ppb. The Middleton Wellfields TCE chemical treatment can lose effeciency above 10 ppb and they are too close for comfort in some wells.
5) The Region have lied like dogs to the public. This is a strong statement and may well be a result of my ever lessening tolerance of bureaucratic/government bafflegab, misdirection and weasel wording.

1) NDMA, Toluene, Xylenes, Ethylbenzene and TCA (trichloroethane) appear to never be reported in any wells. These are common and ubiquitous in southern Ontario groundwater courtesy of gas stations and industrial facilities. Each and every one of these are in Cambridge's groundwater yet they are not reported nor allegedly tested for. Lead, pharmaceuticals, Dioxins, Chloramines, THMs (trihalomethanes) and Haloacetic Acids are not consistently reported. The last three may be a by-product of bacterial disinfection of groundwater but they should consistently be reported. Nitrates are an issue both in rural parts of the Region as well as in some Cambridge wells. I believe individuals with heart problems need to become aware if the wells servicing their homes have high Nitrates.

2) The Region in their on-line Grand River Source Protection Areas report, much to my pleasant surprise are being straightforward about industrial and agricultural contamination of groundwater. They freely admit the issues with TCE (trichloroethlyene) they have in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. They still aren't admitting to industrial contamination of the long closed Forwell and Pompeii Systems downgradient of Safety-Kleen. They simply are refusing to point fingers at Northstar, Ciba-Geigy (Novartis) and Canadian General Tower. Ditto with Canbar and Sunar in Waterloo.

3) Again in their Grand River Source Protection Areas report they advise of these various "management" methods. Also some of their Annual Reports indicate upgrades from steel liners and redrilling to deeper/cleaner "producing intervals". Enhanced treatment at long last is occurring at the Middleton Wellfield.

4) Back in 1986 TCE was discovered in the Strange St. Wellfield in Kitchener. As it was at 3 ppb. and the standard then was 30 ppb the Region's consultants advised putting the wells back into production as the water was needed. If concentrations rose closer to the then standard then some form of treatment would be required. The current Ontario standard is 5 ppb. and there are American jurisdictions with TCE standards of 1 and 3 ppb. Taste and odour problems in the Woolner Wellfield along the Grand River just downriver from the Forwell and Pompeii Systems have long been a problem. Algae and perhaps upriver Phenols have made summer months problematic. At one point the Region were using chlorine and sodium chlorite to mask these odour and taste problems. Apparently sodium chlorite at the time was known to cause human health problems. I would suggest that "managing" contamination can run perilously close to mismanaging it. Source removal and proper cleanup from the getgo makes more sense than "managing" it for the next half century or more.

5) In their Grand River Source Protection Areas report the Region claim that they don't know the source of TCE in well G9 in Cambridge. Really? Just off the top of my head I seem to recall Control Orders and cleanups at possibly Allen Bradley, Long Manufacturing and perhaps even Rockwell Automation. In Elmira the first misdirection came from the M.O.E. telling us in 1989 that NDMA came from the grease used in the well pumps rather than from Uniroyal Chemical. Recently Debbie Vitez has commented in the Cambridge Advocate about an M.O.E. employee stating that they didn't know the source of TCE in the Middleton Wellfield. Unbelievable.

What to do? Phone, e-mail, fax or write Letters to the Editor. Go to Regional Council and or your Municipal Councils and advocate for greater transparency and fuller communication about your water systems. Give praise for better water treatment but demand first rate cleanups of contaminated sites in your community. Demand citizen and public accountability from your local politicians. Let them know that you have far more votes than the polluters who may be donating to their campaigns. Read, listen and become discerning especially when you listen to what politicians are saying. They are masters at being on both sides of an issue. Become informed.

Monday, March 3, 2014


There are three water systems not mentioned yet and they are the Pinebush Well System, the Shades Mill System and the Turnbull Well System. The Pinebush System consists of wells P10, P11 and P17. The P stands for Preston and these wells are located just slightly east of the former Ciba-Geigy, now Novartis. Page 2 advises us that only two of the three wells are in operation at a time and normally P10 operates alternately in conjunction with P11 and P17. The wording on page 2 regarding the operation of these wells is identical for the last three reports/years. Here's where it gets a little odd. The current report (2013) indicates that the Pinebush System operated for 52 weeks last year and there is no mention of any of the three wells being down or off-line at all. The 2012 Report however states that well P11 was off-line for 9 weeks and well P17 was off-line for 7 weeks. Finally the 2011 report states that well P10 was off-line for 23 weeks, well P11 off-line for 25 weeks and well P17 for 26 weeks. Also we are advised that the whole Pinebush System was off-line for 18 weeks. There is a section which advises of repairs and expenses to the wells and or treatment systems. In 2011 a steel liner was installed in well P17 at a cost of $65,000. While this might explain part of the P17 shutdown during 2011 there is no explanation for the P10 and P11 shutdowns much less the entire Pinebush System for 18 weeks. Similarily there is zero explanation for the 2012 shutdown of wells P11 and P17. Once again this lack of transparency and clarity as to why drinking wells are shut down for long periods of time while the entire Region suffers from water restrictions during summer months is disconcerting at the minimum. To make matters worse the Region aren't even sharing up to date water quality test results with us. The whole idea of these ANNUAL Reports is to confirm the quality of our drinking water. Instead all three years are using 2011 test results. This is ridiculous.

The Shades Mill System consists of wells G7, G8, G38 and G39. These wells are located near the Cambridge Landfill on the east side of Cambridge. The 2013 report advises us that well G39 was off-line for 47 weeks last year. While there is virtually zero indication of repairs or related expenses; my suspicious mind has noticed somewhat elevated method detection limits (MDL) for several industrial or agricultural organic pollutants (ie. pesticides). These are elevated relevant to most of the other wells in Cambridge. Elevated MDL's are one way to hide unpalatable truths regarding water pollution if an authority is so inclined. During 2012 wells G38 and G39 were only shut down for two weeks each although in 2011 they were both shutdown (off-line) for 6 weeks. The good news is that remarkably and logically the 2011 report has 2011 test results in it, the 2012 report has 2012 test results and the 2013 report has 2013 test results. Why don't all the reports allegedly describing our drinking water quality have up to date test results?

Lastly is the Turnbull Well System named after former Waterloo Mayor Brian Turnbull. Lest Cambridge feels "special" with Councillor Wolf's recent drinking/driving issues; Waterloo's Mayor turnbull got busted during Octoberfest many years ago after leaving the Concordia Club in Kitchener. This system consists of wells G16, G17 and G18. They are located between the Shades Mill and the Pinebush System. This system and its' three wells were off-line for five weeks in 2013, zero weeks in 2012 and G16 was off for 15 weeks in 2011. We are advised that well G16 was "rehabilitated" in 2011 at a cost of $83,000. There are no further details regarding these downtimes. Also all three years and reports have only the 2011 test results in them. Frankly I find this exercise to be offensive. If I'm going to put in the time and effort to inform myself I see no reason why the Region of Waterloo can not be more forthright and transparent about why wells are shut down and why they can't provide up to date test results. Are we really going from 2011 to 2014 or longer between our drinking water being tested? I am skeptical of that but apparently the Region want us to believe it is so.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


I honestly don't know whether to laugh or cry. I am only about 2/3 of the way through all the Cambridge wells and wellfield reports that the Region of Waterloo put on their website each spring for the previous year. For the last several years I've been publicly sounding the alarm that things are seriously amiss in Cambridge. What I've read yesterday and today in a dozen separate reports representing perhaps twenty Cambridge wells is frankly nonsensical and unbelieveable. My first impression is where is Cambridge getting their tap water from? Well after well is either off-line for the entire year or shut down from fifteen to twenty-five weeks during 2013.

Perhaps good news is that more and more industrially contaminated wells are being shut down while at the same time the Middleton Wellfield is being treated with an Advanced Oxidation Process (AOP). Upgrades last year were to the tune of $16 million. They included doubling the Ultra Violet (UV) disinfection units from two to four as well as chemically breaking down the tricloroethylene (TCE). Speaking of TCE the vast majority of dissolved chemicals in Cambridge, if tested and published, are done so but once a year. Well P6 just south of Northstar was being tested for TCE four times a year until suddenly shut down two years ago. TCE has been tested on a monthly basis at the Middleton wells for years. Last year incredibly it was being tested for TCE on a weekly basis. The results are generally between 1.5 and 3.0 parts per billion (ppb) every single week. The conclusion I am coming to is that with six wells (used to be four) in this wellfield and only absolutely minor shutdowns of a few weeks from three of them; this wellfield is carrying the load for all of Cambridge. The volumes of groundwater available are astronomical. The bad news is that the TCE contamination is also astronomical and clearly based on decades of persistence is due to free phase DNAPL (dense non aqueous phase liquid) trapped in pools or fractures and fissures in the bedrock either under Canadian General Tower or possibly now directly underneath the wellfield. This DNAPL is simply undissolved TCE which has gravity flowed to depressions or low areas underground. They will take from decades more to centuries to finally dissolve depending on their volume. I further believe that the weekly TCE monitoring is in order to manage the concentrations via dilution. Well G15 is further south outside of this wellfield but is piped into the Middleton Reservoir. Also huge volumes of groundwater come from north of the wellfield which also helps dilute the TCE concentrations. This water quality management method is contrary to the principles espoused by the O'Connor Inquiry (Walkerton) however it may well be that the Region of Waterloo have few options. The potential for a disaster and mass poisoning due to either mechanical breakdown of the treatment process or human/mechanical failure in the dilution process is a constant threat.

Well G4 is located on the west side of the Grand River almost due south of Northstar Aerospace. It was off-line for fifty weeks in 2013. In 2012 it was off-line for twenty-two weeks. Well G4A was drilled during 2013 and it was running for thirty-seven weeks. As G4A is in the same report as G4 I will assume that it is drilled beside G4 but probably simply to a different depth in hopes of finding better water. Of interest to me is that the 2013 test results indicate elevated method detection limits (MDL) for four chlorophenols and one pesticide from both the 2012 results and from other Cambridge drinking wells. I find this worrisome.

Well G5 is located just north of the former Ciba-Geigy (now Novartis). Similarily the Region drilled a new well called G5A. G5A was off-line for 51 weeks and the old well (G5) for twelve weeks. Strangely not only are there no 2013 test results but in fact for the 2013 Report the test results presented are 2011 results!

Well G6 south of Ciba-Geigy ran for fifty weeks. So far so good. It did have a positive (albeit low) result for Metolachlor. But wait a minute. Again the results in the 2013 Annual Drinking Water report are for 2011 !

Well G9 just south of Allen Bradley ran for the whole year. Yes it has TCE in it at 1.6 ppb. Wait a minute again. Why are all these results for 2011 and not 2013???

Well H3 in Hespeler was off-line for 50 weeks in 2013. It was also off-line for 25 weeks in 2012. As makes sense the test results for a well off-line for the year (2013) are all for 2012. Well H4 also in Hespeler was off-line for 52 weeks. Similar to the Galt wells (G4, G5) the Region drilled a new well called H4A. It appears to have run for the entire 2013 year but again the test results are all for 2011. In regard to these brand new wells the Region state in their Reports that "...only one of the wells operates at a time...". Well H5 was off-line for twenty-five weeks in 2013. It was also off-line for fifteen weeks in 2012. Where are the 2012 and 2013 chemical test results? Is this negligence/incompetence on the Region's part or is it even possible that these are typographical errors? Could they have inadvertently released these reports with 2011 results instead of 2012 or 2013?

Well P6 is just south of the former Northstar Aerospace. It's now been shut down for the last two years. Having 2011 test results when the well hasn't been running for two years is not unexpected.

Both wells P9 and P15 were shut down for nineteen weeks in 2013. They are located side by side just north of the former Ciba-Geigy. They both ran full time during 2012. Once again the 2012 and 2013 Report had only 2011 results in it. This lack of current published test results for drinking wells that are in production does not give the public confidence in the whole system.